From the July-August 2008 Film Comment, with the subhead “Negotiating the singular career of Portuguese master Manoel de Oliveira on the eve of his 100th birthday “. – J.R.
The best resemble
That are difficult to penetrate
Because of their richness and depth.
The cinema isn’t easy
Because life is complicated
And art indefinable.
Making life indefinable
— Manoel de Oliveira, “Cinematographic Poem,” 1986 (translated from the Portuguese)
Since this century has taught us, and continues to teach us, that human beings can learn to live under the most brutalized and theoretically intolerable conditions, it is not easy to grasp the extent of the, unfortunately accelerating, return to what our 19th-century ancestors would have called the standards of barbarism.
— Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914-1991
To insist that all great filmmakers contain multitudes is to risk a counter-response — that the same might equally be said of the not-so-great. Just as much labor can be expended on bad work as on good, and this applies to the labor of viewers and filmmakers alike. Life and art are both complicated, as Manoel de Oliveira points out, but that doesn’t necessarily make them interesting.… Read more »